Defense Department Calls Microwave Weapons New Threat

After being dismissed for decades, microwave weapons are beginning to be viewed as a good military menace — prompting the Defense Department to issue a request to outfit US soldiers with detectors for what it called “ a growing menace on the battlefield. ”
The weapons, some of which causal agent electrocution sensations, have already been considered for use on US territory. In June, a federal police officer had requested a truck-sized microwave heat ray to disperse Black Lives Matter protests. The Trump government considered using that lapp device against refuge seekers in 2018. now, the Defense Department wants US soldiers outfitted with microwave weapon detectors. That was laid out in a Dec. 9 shrink solicitation for “ a moo cost, first gear weight unit, little size wearable radio frequency ( RF ) weapon vulnerability detector, ” specifying high-frequency microwaves, that came from the Defense Department ’ s Defense Health Program.

The Defense Department ’ s interest in detecting microwave weapons comes as Israel, China, and Russia are reportedly inventing their own versions of a microwave heat ray “ Active Denial System ” that the US pioneered two decades ago. The US continues to develop the engineering : An Air Force Research Laboratory is rolling out a “ counter-swarm electromagnetic weapon, ” called THOR, to fry drones in mid-flight. A Navy microwave weapon prototype mounted on a standard grease-gun saddle horse was unveiled in 2018. The need to disable drones became more substantial with the fall war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which the early north korean won with fleets of drones decimating the latter ’ s defenses. then, in December, a fresh report suggested these weapons could cause neurological injuries. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine ’ s criticized report suggested the weapons were the “ most plausible ” explanation for puzzling neurological injuries seen in at least 15 diplomatic personnel and their families in Cuba in 2016 and 2017. “ Without known patterns of [ radiofrequency ] injury to guide diagnosis, it will be difficult to differentiate [ microwave ] injury from other common sources of illness and injury such as heat stroke, ” says the defense agency ’ south microwave weapon detector platform request, which closes in about two weeks. “ This equivocal symptomology is aggravated by the transeunt nature of RF energy. Without a detector it is possible that no remainder tell of RF attack will be available. ” The Defense Department declined to comment on the detector contract. however, experts contacted by BuzzFeed News suggested that the burgeoning military interest in microwave weapons might spring from the advent of drone-zapping weapons and the NASEM report. The technology, they added, is noteworthy as a modern battlefield business in the twenty-first hundred. “ I suppose that although the US has never deployed these weapons in a field of war, there ’ s a concern that other actors will, ” Andrew Wood of the Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research said by electronic mail. They can easily be concealed behind fabric screens, he added, so united states military personnel experiencing burning sensations, for model, might need a detector to tell if person else is pointing a microwave weapon at them.

The contract ’ sulfur demand for a wearable detector that can fit into a plunder magazine bulge and can be clipped to a vest besides points to concerns about accidental exposure to microwaves by military test site workers, environmental epidemiologist Marloes Eeftens of the swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute told BuzzFeed News by e-mail. Despite the burning sense one might feel when they are in the beam of a “ heat-ray-like ” weapon, Eeftens warned that it would be hard to determine whether a concentrated microwave playing field was to blame. “ You will come out with no marks, so it ‘s difficult to objectively determine if and how much person was in truth exposed to, ” she said. There are detectors for other kinds of radiofrequency waves than the microwaves described in the Department of Defense ’ sulfur abridge solicitation, Paul Elliot of Magnetic Sciences Inc. in Acton, Massachusetts, told BuzzFeed News. They are normally intended for people who work with electronics. “ The things we sell are the size of bricks, or at least half a brick, ” he said. “ You wouldn ’ thymine wear one. ”

While high-temperature-inducing microwaves, like the ones found in ovens, can cook food and causal agent burns, the question of whether neurological health effects can result from less powerful ones has long lacked evidence and has been discipline to the kinds of conspiracy theories seen today about 5G cellphones. US Air Force experiments set limits on human microwave exposures in the 1970s during studies of electromagnetic pulses seen from nuclear explosions. Those standards have widely been adopted since, but a 2018 NATO technical report called those limits scientifically undue, saying they weren ’ t backed by any experiments showing injuries. A report by french researchers last year that low-power pulse microwaves were associated with cancer and behavior changes in rats raised the health effects question once more, particularly with systems such as THOR now contemplated for field use against drones. “ I do n’t expect major condom problems for people in the shine, but on the other pass, the total of research on bioeffects from such pulses is specify, ” bioengineer Ken Foster, of the University of Pennsylvania, said. “ If the military is going to field these weapons, they jolly well better do effective safety studies. ”